GoldieBlox viral video sells toys, gets girls into engineering

Posted by joe

Don’t follow the crowd!  All that competition isn’t the best way to make money. Instead, find a way to deliver unique value to a new market. GoldieBlox isn’t following the crowd — how many  ”construction toys” are there designed specifically for girls? Even LEGO Friends line is mainly a doll toy. GoldieBlox thinks that product-market exists, and that perhaps it can help solve a larger societal problem — the lack of women in engineering and the sciences.

GoldieBlox needs to target moms (buyers) and girls (users) — and this ad does both. The general subject — lack of girls in engineering and technology — is a hot topic which has helped to spur buzz. You can read more about the ad and GoldieBlox in this New York Times article, “Ad Takes Off Online: Less Doll, More Awl” (November 20, 2013).

What do you think of GoldieBlox? Will this product sell? Can they help us generate a new generation of women engineers?


Citi Bike – The Story Behind Citibank’s Brilliant Marketing Idea

Posted by joe

citi-bike-share-1-e1366036215458Wow, this is a brilliant! Citibank, yes the same bank the government bailed out to the tune of  $476 billion, has found a way to change its image. Citigroup now sponsors a bike share program in New York City. In the program’s first few months (May – July 2013) Citigroup internal surveys showed customers’ (presumably in New York) “favorable impressions toward the Citi” jumped 17% and those calling Citigroup: “an innovative company” rose 12%; “a socially responsible company,” also up 12% and “for people like me” climbed 14%. You can read the whole story at Bloomberg Businessweek in “Citi Bike: Citibank’s New York Marketing Coup” (October 31, 2013). The article notes that even some of Citi’s biggest detractors begrudgingly support this effort.

This is a great example of a branded service. Many firms are turning to branded services as a way to meet customer needs and subtly (or maybe not so subtly) reinforce their brand.

I was surprised that the idea initially took a lot of selling inside of Citigroup. Maybe it is just my 20/20 hindsight, but this seems like a no-brainer to me. What do you think could be some of the pros and cons of this idea? What could a brand like Verizon do in your community? What about a brand like Coca Cola — which is faces growing criticism for its sugary soft drinks?


B2B promotion doesn’t have to mean “boring-to-boring”

Posted by joe

b2b (1)General Electric (GE) sells some of its goods directly to consumers — but most of its sales are to other businesses. While lots of B2B advertising and promotion is pretty boring, GE wanted to avoid that trap. According to CMO Beth Comstock “We are all emotional beings. We want context. We want relevance. We want connection.” This article at Advertising Age, “GE Tells the Secret of Making Geeky Cool,” (October 5, 2013), provides a great summary of some of the interesting promotion GE is doing right now:

  • See its Datalandia site its web series that attempts to show how big data solves problems, 
  • Inspired scientists (young and old) use the GE promoted hashtag (#sixsecondscience) and post videos of no more than six seconds on Vine (click here to see some examples), and
  • the “Brilliant Machines” campaign which deals with another emerging technological developments like what GE calls the “Industrial internet” and others sometimes call the Internet of Things (see ad below).

How well do you think this approach resonates with GE’s B2B customers? How does it position GE in their minds? What else could GE do to extend each of these campaigns?


Now that is one tough sales job…

Posted by joe

boeing1It can’t be easy selling airplanes for Boeing. It is a long selling cycle, you have to deal with large buying centers, and you have tough competition and powerful customers. And what if your hyped new product starts fires on planes — while they are flying! That can be a really hard selling job. That describes John Wojick’s job — he is Boeing’s top salesperson. You can read more in this article in the Wall Street Journal ”Boeing’s Top Salesman Works to Rebuild Customer Trust, Fend Off Airbus” (October 8, 2013, non-subscribers may need to click here).

The article offers insights into key account management — when customers are very large. Sales is a common route for many marketing students — and seeing what this salesperson does might help them better understand the often sophisticated nature of selling. We have also posted this at Learn the 4 Ps


Promotion and the Personal Marketing Plan: The Cover Letter

Posted by joe

Are you working on your personal marketing plan? You should always be thinking about strategy for your current or future career. In the personal marketing plan, a key element of the promotion blend is the cover letter. This short Fast Company article, “Don’t Be Boring: How to Write a Cover Letter That Can Get You the Job” (September 4, 2013) will give you some tips. 


Chipotle’s “Scarecrow” video and game. Does it help the restaurant’s positioning?

Posted by joe

1379080964000-scareA couple years ago Chipotle scored big with its animated video “Back to the Start” that championed natural food and farming and featured Willie Nelson singing the Coldplay song “The Scientist.” That viral video got more than 7.5 million views while clearly reinforcing the positioning Chipotle seeks in the market.

Now Chipotle is back and this time it has Fiona Apple singing over a dark animated, dystopian video (see below). There is also an iPhone video game. For more background, read an interview about the latest ad with Chipotle’s CMO Mark Crumpacker in the Village Voice, “Chipotle’s New ‘Scarecrow’ Video and App: An Emotionally Powerful Marketing Tool (INTERVIEW)” (September 13, 2013).

Check out Chipotle’s website and those of competitors like Taco Bell and Qdoba. How does Chipotle try to differentiate itself from these competitors? What is Chipotle’s desired positioning? Does this video and the video game help with that positioning.


Is every brand a “trust brand”?

Posted by joe

trusted-brand-370x229Seth Godin is a master of saying a lot with relatively few words. This time, in “The trust brand” (Seth’s Blog, September 7, 2013), Seth suggests that every brand is really a “trust brand.”

What do you think? Is that what a brand should be? Is every brand a trust brand? Is a brand just a promise you can believe – a promise the brand will offer you some set of benefits?


Your personal marketing plan — the cover letter is a key part of your personal Promotion blend

Posted by joe

future-plan2As you prepare your personal marketing plan, don’t forget the importance of the cover letter. It is a key component in your promotion blend. As you prepare your cover letter, keep in mind some of Drake Baer’s tips in this Fast Company post “Don’t Be Boring: How to Write a Cover Letter That Can Get You the Job” (September 4, 2013).

What are your favorite cover letter writing tips?


How can we nudge customers to consume less — and save the planet?

Posted by joe

AHORRO-DE-ENERGIAMost marketing managers look for ways to get us to use more of their products. On the other hand, many power companies have programs designed to help consumers become more efficient users of energy — to use less electricity, gas, etc. This is good for consumer budgets, better for the planet — and with some regulatory incentives, it can be better for utility companies as well.

This recent Wall Street Journal article, “The Efficiency of Social Pressure” (September 5, 2013, non-subscribers may need to click here) describes utilities hiring behavioral scientists to learn how to encourage customers to be more prudent energy consumers. The article notes the inefficient use of energy in the residential sector.

What other ideas could be used to encourage consumers to be more careful with their energy usage?


Is this the meanest prankvertising stunt ever?

Posted by joe

Prankvertising — that crazy practice of advertisers creating a prank, filming it, and then hoping the video goes viral and does great things for the brand can be a risky strategy (see AdAge, Prankvertising: Are Outrageous Marketing Stunts Worth the Risk? Liabilities Galore” April 1, 2013).

What do you think of this video? What are the potential benefits for LG? The potential risks? Is it worth the risks?